I watched Food, Inc. last night and enjoyed it in a horrifying, “Gross, I just bought chicken. I wasn’t thinking about how it’s farmed when I made the impulse, grocery store purchase. Now I don’t know if I can actually eat it” sort of way.
Much of the information was nothing new from what I’ve seen in other similar documentaries such as Our Daily Bread (warning: do not eat in front of the TV) and the Supermarket Secrets exposé series from the UK (don’t get all superior, the exact same things happen here).
I assure you, I may have seen much of it before, but it’s no less disgusting and infuriating. Whether we’re talking about how animals are “farmed” — and I use the term loosely — or the Big Brother tactics of seed companies, or even industry/legislator incest in food regulation, I hope we start waking up en masse to the seriousness of these issues. Sooner than later.
There were a couple of angles in the film I particularly appreciated. First was an interview with Gary Hirschberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm organic yogurt company, especially the extended version in the special features section of the DVD. He talks about the power of consumers and business to shape how industry and mega-corporations behave, in this case Wal-Mart.
When Wal-Mart gets on the organic food bandwagon you know the concept has gone mainstream. They are in it for the profit, without a doubt, but that profit is driven by consumers. And the side effect is many more tons of pesticide and poison NOT spilling into our watersheds, as well as less crap in our food. How is that a bad thing? (Watch for a brilliant clip where a farmers happily tells Wal-Mart execs who’ve come to visit, “Wow, I’ve never even been in a Wal-Mart store, we boycott them.”)
Another great element of the film is dialogue with a farmer who clearly describes the benefits both health and environmental of choosing small scale, integrated farming methods. Watch for the description of how keeping cows, pigs and chickens together creates mutually beneficial side effects and reduces the need for artificial interference with medication and chemicals. Again, it’s worth watching the extended interview.
And finally, my favourite thing about Food, Inc. was how, after showcasing the sorry state of affairs, they wrap things up on a high note with a list of things anyone can start doing right now to vote with their dollars. The film does an excellent job of highlighting many of the entwined issues surrounding food security, then offering ways for you and I to get involved and contribute to resolving the problem. And it’s not even that hard!